2010-11-26 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Despite contests for every statewide office and many interesting races locally, a smaller share of eligible voters showed up at the polls two weeks ago than in any other state in the nation. In fact, New York State’s turnout was lower than in any midterm election for at least three decades. A recent study shows that only 32.1 percent of the 13.4 million eligible voters showed up.

There is a genuine concern in the Rockaway community for the future of the Peninsula Hospital Center. A few months ago, it could not meet its payroll, claiming it was a computer glitch. More recently, some of the local doctors long-affiliated with the hospital have begun quietly changing their affiliation to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital or to Nassau County hospitals. Last week, it was revealed that it was more than 2 million dollars behind on its employee health care payments to the union. Even though there is a deal to extend the deadline to the end of this month, one wonders if this is the beginning of the end.

For those who enjoyed the PBS showing of “The Bungalows of Rockaway,” or for those who missed it when it was shown last month, the DVD version is now available online, through PBS and at the Museum of the City of New York. The online website is www. thebungalowsofrockaway.com/in dex.php?/project/buy-the-dvd/ City Councilman Eric Ulrich warns that his office has received a number of complaints from local residents who have been scammed by unsolicited offers for chimney and boiler maintenance and repairs for the coming winter months. Following a “free inspection” by the workers, who intimate that they are from the local energy company, home owners are told that they have problems that will be reported to the fire department if they are not corrected and then given a price for the work. After collecting the fee, the workers often leave, never to return.

Participants of the Department of Education meeting held at Beach Channel High School on November 15 were shocked when the Queens High School Superintendent told them that there are no current plans to shutter the school. What apparently happened is that the new law requires a parent engagement meeting prior to any decision being made on closing a school. So, this was that meeting and the DOE had to keep up the fa├žade that there was a chance the school would be kept open. If you listen to the mayor and the chancellor, however, you know that the school is slated to phase out and close over the next three years.

Belle Harbor resident Steven Slater had his fifteen minutes of fame when he left his position as a flight attendant for Jet Blue by opening the emergency slide, grabbing some cans of beer and sliding to freedom. He recently pled guilty to some minor charges and will not face jail time for his dangerous act. Now, he’s been hired to judge a contest to find the most outrageous airplane tale. Fliers are urged to text their crazy stories to Slater as part of the Mile High Text Club promotion for Toktumi, the company that makes the mobile app that allows inflight texting. The company called Slater “the perfect person to judge the contest.”

With the skies clear and the weather cooperating, this year’s memorial to those who died in the tragic crash of American Airlines Flight 587 on November 12, 2001 was very well-attended, more so than in the past several years, when the weather did not cooperate. Once again, the mayor was here to make his English-Spanish speech and the names of all 285 who died that day were read aloud. With the tenth anniversary of the crash coming next year, we wonder how much longer the citywide memorial will be held in its present form.

The NYPD’s Transit District 23, which covers the subways in Rockaway and a portion of the mainland, is looking for a few energetic young adults ages 14 to 19 who would like to serve their community as a police explorer. Weekly meetings are held on Tuesdays, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Transit District Headquarters on Beach 116 Street. There will be an open house for all interested candidates on November 30 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the headquarters, and anybody interested in further information can call Police Officer Borgi at 718- 474-6554.

For at least two years, State Senator Malcolm Smith has been looking for a way to give more than $500,000 to two convicted drug dealers who now run a nonprofit dedicated to stopping drug and gun violence. At least, they say they are dedicated to ending the youth violence that permeates Far Rockaway. In the past two years, they have done little in that direction besides following Smith around and speaking at some school assemblies. When the state balked at giving them the money because they have no track record and no holdings, the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation stepped in as the fiscal guarantor for the shaky duo. Kevin Alexander, the executive director for the RDRC admits that the program is “out of its comfort zone,” but says that nothing being done so far has been able to end the violence and new methods are needed. Seems to me that the organization is beholden to Smith for some of its funding, and it is caught in the middle of this bad deal.

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